Biting Midge: Works in Prose by Kathy Lou Schultz

Kathy Lou Schultz’s Belladonna chapbook #115

Biting Midge: Works in Prose begins with a quote from Bob Perelman: “To think in sentences leads to novel specimens of desire.” In Biting Midge, Kathy Lou Schultz is indeed thinking and writing in sentences that desire.

From “Dear”:

“She said, ‘These are the two lips that I use to speak to you in the evening. They cover my pretty white teeth.’ This impressed me. My needs were simple: a pillow to lay my head on at night, and an approximation of myself to help me know my location....At night I say, ‘Will you hold me?’ and she says, ‘Not tonight honey, it’s too hot.’

At night I form myself to her body after she falls asleep.
At night I invent a childhood.
At night I lie awake in my little box.”

The book begins with abjection, hunger, and an exploration of the body. It introduces a thematics of entrances and exits that haunt each of the pieces: “The outline of my body is an approximation of what enters and exits. The container is full of memories that I carry from place to place, but do not discuss with my lover.”

In the author’s notes at the back of the book, Schultz writes that “these poems are dedicated to the cities of San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Memphis in which I have found both respite and trials.” The book includes “Dear,” “Or if she would fly apart,” “Extra extra,” “Blood,” “At First Blush,” “World Without End,” “Happy Birthday, America,” ‘Story About a Man,” “Monument,” “The Unplanned,” and “Left.”

One of my favorite pieces in this slender book playfully joins the body, sex, gender, journalism and giants of modernist poetry–some more well known (Eliot, Pound, Williams) than others (Loy). I reproduce it for your reading pleasure here:

Extra extra
for Jessica and Aliki

Boys learn best at a room temperature of 68 degrees; for girls, it’s 74
degrees. I read it in the newspaper. When I read something in the
newspaper I write it in my book and then I learn it. Writing is different
than speaking: like all that cacophony in “The Waste land” (bawk! bawk!
Who can stand it?) is different from Williams, who read the newspaper.
Williams built a city out of language and then the people had nowhere to
live except under the peaked roof of the capital “A.” Mina Loy wrote: “We
might have given birth to a butterfly/ With the daily news/ Printed in
blood on its wings.” An old geezer once said, “Make it new!” Calm down,
geezer, the boys are reading your poems day and night, all the better to
be erudite, and I’ll try to be a better friend. Right now the new and the
news are standing on the corner in short pants singing, “Extra! Extra!
Read all about it!”

And so you should! You can find Belladonna books here.

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